Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is planning to use helicopters in the upcoming campaign for the 2014 general elections, a senior party official has confirmed.
The source, who was responding to speculation doing the rounds on the matter, however said the party has resolved to keep a low profile on the matter until later.
“Yes, we’ll use helicopters during campaign. We’ll use possibly five helicopters. We’ve managed to secure good people to provide us with these [the choppers].
“The idea is to get to Likoma Island, Chitipa, Nsanje and all those places which are hard to reach due to their bad terrain. We’ll surely reach there,” said the source but could not ascertain whether they will be hired or bought.
The source said all potential restrictive areas such as denying them flying rights on political grounds were looked into and all was going according to plan.
This, the source said, was based on police’s insistence that no-one imitates the presidential convoy especially when using motorcycles.
The DPP has been going to some of its meetings on a motorcade of sorts, a development that attracted a call from police that no one other than the presidency is allowed to use a motorcade in a presidential formation.
When contacted over the weekend to corroborate the choppers issue, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi refused to comment saying he had no idea about it.
On his part, Deputy National Police Press and Public Relations Officer Kelvin Maigwa said he was not aware of any law which could prevent any individual from using helicopters.
The use of choppers by major opposition political parties has been in practice in some African countries.
In the run up to the election in Zambia last year, the now President Michael Sata who was leader of opposition Patriotic Front (PF) hired a chopper which he used during his campaign. He unseated the then incumbent Rupiah Banda in the election.
In 2010, Professor Ibrahim Lipumba of Tanzania, who was a presidential candidate for Civic United Front (CUF), hired three helicopters which he used towards the end of his campaign.
In Kenya too, the now Prime Minister Raila Odinga hired a helicopter during his campaign in 2008 in his bid to oust the sitting President Mwai Kibaki. They are now working together in a unity government